By Allison Senecal — So! The 10-part weekly series X-Men: Disassembled came, brought Legion and X-Man back to us, and then went, seemingly leaving an X-Men-less Earth-616 in its wake. Regardless of whether you think all ten issues were necessary (I’m on the fence, myself), they certainly succeeded in setting up a comparably more enticing, new era of X-Men comics.
I’m talking specifically about the Age of X-Man event, which started last week and runs through this summer, and Matthew Rosenberg’s new run on the flagship Uncanny X-Men title! AOXM, which consists of six five-part mini-series happening in the same alternate reality, includes a fantastic and diverse slate of rising creators, such as Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, who are showrunning the whole thing. AOXM looks to be a weird, wild riff on Age of Apocalypse, with its own unique aesthetic and premise. As for Uncanny, I’m largely into it because THE NEW MUTANT LADIES (and Havok, I guess) were announced for the main team, but even if you don’t love them as much as I do, I think there will be a lot to love in these comics. I’m hoping even fans disappointed by Disassembled will give one or both a go.
These round-ups, which will be running once a month, will serve as both reviews and as actual honest-to-god round-ups! So you, yes you, don’t have to read absolutely everything if you don’t want to, or maybe you’ll just be titillated enough to try a new series. Either way.
Oh yeah. Cyclops and Wolverine are back, or something! Let’s get the gang back together, eh?
Previously on Age of X-Man
Age of X-Man: Alpha #1
Writers: Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Imagine a pastel-tinged perfect world populated only by mutants, where the X-Men are revered, the religion is Hope Summers, and every mutant child is cultivated from an early age to value themselves and their powers. Too good to be true, right? Yep. Thompson and Nadler ace plopping us right into this mutant Utopia and following up the warm fuzzies with an immediate sense of unease. Sculpture of the Original Six X-Men? Check, and you heard that right! Six! What? Did you also forget Nate Grey was a founding member of the team? To top this off, the art team perfectly nails the cozy yet sterile Mid-Century Modern vibe, which always makes me at least think of repressed sexuality and TV dinners. Color palette: perfection.
Besides the opening, where we see the new Marvelous X-Men team in action, this is a delightfully quiet world-building issue, which fits the setting and adds to the general atmosphere of cultivated peace, punctuated only by a (purposely) jarring Bishop arrest scene. This is where things get truly gnarly. Jean is re-educated as a result of her and Bishop’s forbidden romance, and X-23 is brought into the team as his replacement. Sense of cultivated peace successfully shattered. Let the Age of X-Man truly commence.
Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #1 (of 5)
Writer: Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Marco Failla
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Characters: Jean Grey, Storm, X-23, Magneto, Nate Grey, Nature Girl, Colossus, Nightcrawler
Much like Alpha, Marvelous opens on several scenes of serenity, this time domestic and not out in the larger world. Magneto cooking, Nate meditating, Jean reading. Blissful. Even the emergency alerts are tightly managed and seemingly non-taxing for our Marvelous X-Men. There are a few cracks in the facade, though. Nate again appears where he most definitely should not (since when was he a member of Multiple Man’s X-Factor team?) Colossus is painting, but it seems to be Lockheed. Noodle on that heartbreaker. The lowkey best part for me is the palette stays consistent from Alpha to this, and I hope that continues into all the minis. Really lends a cohesive and beautifully muted aesthetic to everything.
Of course, things begin unraveling on what appears to be an otherwise routine mission. Looped throughout the entire sequence is a PA system’s litany of “being alone is harmony“ (and other Nate Grey-isms) and slowly Jean begins to hear a psychic undercurrent of “it’s okay to love “ woven in. Once again, there’s a jarring scene that completely breaks the illusion, but this time it’s X-23 confronting Nate about her mission-interrupting memory of…a sister? After some bonding, Nate admits this is true and they had to be separated, and Laura attempts to attack him before being mind-wiped. During the next day’s leisure activities, Jean again hears the voice from the earlier mission, which turns out to be a psychic resistance rallying call sent by Apocalypse. *Jaws music*
Meanwhile on Uncanny X-Men
Uncanny X-Men #11
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artists: Salvador Larroca (main), John McCrea (“Wolverine Returns”), Juanan Ramirez (“The Last Blindfold Story”)
Colorists: Rachelle Rosenberg (main and “The Last Blindfold Story”), Mike Spicer (“Wolverine Returns”)
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Characters: Cyclops, Wolverine, Blindfold, Multiple Man, Layla Miller, Callisto, Chamber, Velocidad
“This is forever.”
This is, simply put, a haunting opening issue. I don’t use that word willy-nilly, but I was in bed for a good half hour thinking about this last night. I tend to dislike the device of telling the same story via different points-of-view, especially back-to-back, but they do it in this issue and it creates a feeling of ever-tightening tension and isolation. All three linked stories are fantastic, building on each other. I will advise that anyone with suicide triggers should be careful. I feel Rosenberg didn’t make his decisions lightly (though one death was a bit of a throwaway), and I’ve had a couple ugly cries over it, but my two cents are it’s not my business to tell people how to feel when characters die, especially two who are likely favorites to some.
Cyclops is back! And he’s searching for other mutants to join his cause (finding the missing X-Men and fixing everything, because of course), because a world without X-Men is pretty dank. Blindfold eventually finds him and gives a warning. “This is forever.” It echoes through the rest of the issue like a pipe drip you can’t quite pinpoint. Scott hits up other known mutants, including a Chamber-led group in the sewers, and is found by Multiple Man. Jamie warns him about bothering Blindfold, who Scott then finds dead in her home, with the words “this is forever” scrawled next to her. A death-wish leads Scott to an anti-mutant rally and scuffle with Cap, after which he calls attention to himself on national TV and sends a message to other mutants to meet him “where this all began”. Of course he’s ambushed, and saved by Wolverine, leading to a little chills-inducing greeting.
In the next story, events then start from the beginning, this time with Wolverine watching everything from the shadows, and Kid Cable telling him to keep an eye on Scott. Layla Miller tells Logan to find Blindfold if he wants help so he heads down to the sewers where he comes across a rapidly aged Velocidad who tells him Blindfold doesn’t want to be found, of course right before she tracks Logan down and hits him with some ominous conversation. We see the altercation at the end from Logan’s perspective, and his decision to intervene and reveal himself to Scott.
The last story loop belongs to Ruth/Blindfold. We find out she’s won the lottery, getting her out of the sewers, but her powers have been shorting out since the events of Disassembled and she keeps having violent visions. She seems to no longer have a clear concept of past, present, or future. After the previously mentioned exchange with Logan, she draws herself a bath and kills herself, stating she sees she no longer has a future.
Age of X-Man: Alpha #1 provided some STELLAR hooks for the six AOXM miniseries so let’s take a look at what might be next…..
Next Time on Age of X-Man
Age of X-Man: NextGen #1 (of 5)
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Marcus To
Release Date: 2/13/2019
What is up with that slow zoom-in on Glob’s very haunted gaze? What happens when a bunch of teens and young adults find out not everything is as it seems?
Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler #1 (of 5)
Writer: Seanan McGuire
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Release Date: 2/20/2019
NATURALLY, the handsomest (even without his beard) X-man is a famous actor in this perfect reality. The Cuckoos are his agents. Magma is his stunt coordinator. What could go wrong?
Age of X-Man: The X-Tremists #1 (of 5)
Writer: Leah Williams
Artist: Georges Jeanty
Release Date: 2/27/2019
Hey, what’s a utopia without a secret police force? *ominous music* Just how much policing do they need to do? Who exactly is Moneta, this new mutant? Why is Bobby wearing suspenders?
Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #1 (of 5)
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: German Peralta
Release Date: 3/6/2019
So where did Bishop go? Here, apparently! What are his fellow inmates in for? What’s up with Dani Moonstar, who is almost definitely in two places at once (here and Uncanny later this month)?
Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and the X-Tracts #1 (of 5)
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Salva Espin
Release Date: 3/13/2019
Apocalypse?! A GOOD GUY? Basically seems that way….and working with Kitty Pryde? I guess….what the #$%& is going on? Why is he sending subversive psychic messages to everyone?
Allison buys books professionally and comics unprofessionally. You can find her chaotic neutral Twitter feed at @maliciousglee.